Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement

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Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.


5th Grader Writes Poetry About Dyslexia
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November 26, 2017 by Jhara Navalo

Dyslexia by Amaya 5th Grader

Reading is confusing,

Writing is too.

The words are all scrambled but I know what to do.

I Code, I Write, I Think and I Read.

I use Learning Ally,

It reads to me.

My wonderful teachers guide me each day.

We are building a pathway to my amazing brain!

Amaya Wade

5th Grade

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Congratulations to Dan Phillips, a Learning Ally California Educator, Just Awarded “2017 Best School District Technology Director”
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November 21, 2017 by Jenny Falke (LAE)

Edvocate AwardsOn any school day, when Dan Phillips walks into a classroom or into the Marin County Technology Resource Center, you can feel excitement. Students from preschoolers to young adults are smiling and eager to learn. His energy is contagious. His knowledge about education technology is thorough. His contributions to helping all kids achieve is renown across the 19 school districts his Center serves.

Dan is the essence of what an ed-tech leader should be and the reason why he was awarded “2017 Best School District Technology Director” in the U.S by Tech Edvocate.

Marin County Technology Resource Center Helps Students Use Learning Ally

By trade, Dan is a Speech Pathologist, but he has managed the Marin County Technology Resource Center, a San Rafael-based facility for the California Department of Education, for many years.

Dan Phillips with Tiana McDowellDan Phillips, Technology Director, Marin County, CA working with Tiana McDowell, Speech and Language Pathologist at Olive Elementary in Novato School District. This Center was designed after Dan’s vision to use education and assistive technology in support of students with learning disabilities and special needs. Learning Ally is a program that Dan uses and recommends to support students who struggle with reading comprehension, like those with dyslexia or students with visual impairments.

Terrie Noland, National Director of Educator Engagement & Initiatives at Learning Ally, who nominated Dan for the National Tech Edvocate Award, says, “It is an honor to recognize Dan for this prestigious award. For many years, he has enlightened California educators and families to quality ed-tech that works best for every students’ learning style. We love working with him and knowing that Learning Ally plays a role in helping more students reach their academic goals.”

Teacher of the Year

Dan’s career spans 21 years touching the lives of thousands of students in both general and special education. In 2015, the California Department of Education named Dan “Teacher of the Year.”

Today, his Technology Resource Center is rocking its mission to integrate modern teaching and learning approaches and training to enhance student achievement. He and his team have exposed more teachers, administrators, students and their families to the right educational technologies to make a real learning difference for students.

From assistive technology, to 3-D printing to robotics, art and music technology and artificial intelligence, to the latest mobile devices, apps and resources, and reading solutions, like Learning Ally, the Center is an internationally acclaimed model for supporting multitudes of diverse learners with quality ed-tech. Dan Phillips’ dedication to “education for all” is truly a commitment to celebrate. Please join us in congratulating him for this wonderful accomplishment.


- By Valerie Chernek


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Learning Ally LINK Named Top Resource for Students with Learning Disabilities by Teachers with Apps
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November 21, 2017 by Jenny Falke (LAE)

teachers with apps logoLearning Ally’s LINK app was just named a Top 11 2017 Resource to support students with learning disabilities, by Teachers with Apps, along with 10 other stellar educational company apps.

Teachers with Apps

Teachers with Apps is a premium resource for educators and parents to discover exceptional ed-tech tools in the digital space and to provide recommended mobile apps that are the tools of the future.

This community strives to understand child development and the significance of all factors that contribute to a happy and healthy child, including academic, social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being. Each product/app review goes through a rigorous evaluation by teachers, therapists, and educators with specific expertise. Products are also field tested with a cross-section of students and teachers.

Learning Ally LINK

Sarah Smirnoff, Director of Product Development for Learning Ally says, “We’re thrilled that Teachers with Apps selected our mobile app as a highly-recommended product. Our human-narrated audiobooks bring curriculum to life for struggling readers, especially those with dyslexia who have difficulty decoding words and keeping up with grade level materials.”

LINK VOICEtext screenshotLearning Ally’s reading solution includes access to over 80,000 human-read novels, literature and K-12 textbooks in accessible formats. A suite of powerful teacher resources help teachers easily manage assignments and monitor student progress.

The mobile, desktop and Chromebook app, Learning Ally LINK, ensures the highest quality digital reading and learning experience in a school environment and for anytime reading. Students can listen to text read aloud in a multisensory reading experience. This award-winning app has proprietary VOICEtext ™ technology that synchronizes human narration with highlighted words. The app ensures consistent eye tracking and includes bookmarks, notetaking, and has the exact page numbers as the printed textbook. Students can share their notes with teachers and parents, using them as study guides and for book reports, amplifying the digital reading experience.


Learn more about Learning Ally

Millions of U.S. students with vision and learning disabilities require reading accommodations to read on grade level. With Learning Ally, students master content knowledge. They learn in mainstream education settings. They keep academic pace with their peers, enhance their vocabulary and use active critical thinking skills to become engaged readers and achievers. Interested in a demo of Learning Ally? We're glad to provide one for you. Join an online demo today.


- By Valerie Chernek


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Audiobooks Into Movies: Wonder
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November 6, 2017 by Jhara Navalo

Family Friendly Novel

Read Wonder Before It's November 17th Movie Release

Wonder Book Cover

Learning Ally's volunteer voiceover community was nominated for Best Voice Over Audiobook Narration for Children’s Pre-School books for their work on recording WONDER.  New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time. Read it before you see it and let us know in the comments if the book is better than the movie.

If you've already read Wonder, check out one of the Wonder ancillary novels:

365 Days of Wonder

365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts by R.J. Palacio.

365 DAYS OF WONDER is a beautiful companion to the novel: a collection of quotes and wise words, one for every day of the year. It includes funny, insightful, inspiring thoughts from WONDER's fans, famous authors and personalities - from Roald Dahl and Paul McCartney to Anne Frank, Tolkien and Popeye - and from the novel itself. This companion book features conversations between Mr. Browne and Auggie, Julian, Summer, Jack Will, and others, giving readers a special peek at their lives after Wonder ends.

We're All Wonders Book Cover

We're All Wonders by R.J. Palacio

Now all readers can discover the Wonder message with this gorgeous picture book, starring Auggie and his dog Daisy on an original adventure. With spare, powerful text and richly-imagined illustrations, We're All Wonders shows readers what it's like to live in Auggie's world - a world in which he feels like any other kid, but he's not always seen that way. This book will inspire all to choose kind.

Not a member yet? Join Today to gain access to over 80,000 audiobooks to help your student learn and thrive academically

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5 Frighteningly Fabulous Books for Halloween
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October 26, 2017 by Jhara Navalo

Celebrate Halloween with these 5 frightening book recommendations for all ages. All of these titles are available for download in Learning Ally's accessible audiobook library.

Audibooks for Students who struggle to read

IT by Stephen King Grade: Adult Lexile: Unavailable 28 years ago 7 teenagers promised to come back to their hometown to battle an evil creature that preys on children. Not recommended for the kiddies. IT, the book, is so much better than the movie.


Audiobooks for Student who Struggle to Read

The Ten Great Mysteries of Edgar Allen Poe by Edgar Allan Poe Grade: 7+ Lexile: 1250L A compilation of Ten of Edgar Allan Poe's scariest poems - all in one book - is "high brow" Halloween. This one's good for curling up with hot cocoa and wondering "who is tapping at my chamber door?"


Audiobooks for Students with a Learning Difference

Took: Ghost Stories by Mary Downing Hahn Grade: 5 - 7 Lexile: 690L Folks say Old Auntie takes a girl and keeps her fifty years.When Erica disappears into the woods something is terribly wrong. Did the witch strike?


Audiobooks for Students with a Learning Difference

Goosebumps: Vampire Breath by R.L. Stein Grade: 3 - 7  Lexile: 430L Freddy and his friend Cara aren't afraid of anything. Then they opened a bottle of Vampire Breath. Now there's a vampire in Freddy's basement and he's thirsty....oh no!


Audiobooks for Students who are dyslexic

Buddy Files: Case of the School Ghost by Dori Hillestead Butler Grade: 1 - 3 Lexile: 610L There have always been rumors of a ghost at Four Lakes Elementary. Buddy is determined to find out if there really is a ghost.


About Learning Ally

Learning Ally is a leading nonprofit ed-tech organization delivering a comprehensive learning solution for struggling readers in elementary, middle and high schools. Our proven solution includes the most extensive library of human-read audiobooks that students want and need to read both at home and at school. This reading experience helps accelerate learning, enables a new level of access to knowledge and powerfully increases confidence and self-belief. Learning Ally empowers over 370,000 students with improved comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and critical thinking skills. For over 70 years, we have helped transform the lives of struggling readers by bridging the gap between their reading capability and their academic potential as they confidently become lifelong learners who thrive in school and beyond.

Become a Learning Ally member today!

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